Thousands have called for a lecturer to be reinstated after he was reportedly dismissed for writing the word “racist” on a poster promoting the government’s controversial Prevent counter-extremism programme.
The union has warned that industrial action could be on the cards if the maths lecturer, who is also a local branch secretary of UCU, is not reinstated immediately.
A petition from the UCU, which calls for the decision to be reversed, has been signed by more than 3,000 people and a protest is due to take place at the college on Friday.
But Sandwell College has said the decision to terminate the employment of the member of staff was taken after a "thorough investigation into a serious disciplinary matter”.
Since July 2015, nurseries, schools, colleges and universities have been required to “have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism” as part of the Prevent strategy.
The government’s duty has been widely criticised by education unions and human rights organisations who say it fosters discrimination against Muslims and inhibits freedom of expression.
In January, the government announced an independent review of Prevent after years of controversy.
Paul Cottrell, acting general secretary of the UCU, has accused the college of losing “all sense of proportion” in dealing with the case.
He said: “The incident was clearly a moment of frustration for which he has apologised, but the college has refused to budge from its hardline position.”
Mr Cottrell added: “It seems this incident is being used as an excuse to attack Mr Muritu for his trade union activities.
“We will not simply stand by and allow this to happen, and the college should be prepared to face industrial action if the decision is not swiftly reversed.”
A spokesperson for Sandwell College said: "Safeguarding is of paramount importance to everybody at Sandwell College and we expect everybody to act professionally, ensuring that we adhere to our statutory duties whilst creating the best possible environment for all of our students and staff to thrive.
“Although we do not share details of internal HR matters, it is important to note that we recently conducted a thorough investigation into a serious disciplinary matter which resulted in the decision being made to terminate the employment of a member of staff.
“They, of course, have the right to appeal and therefore it would not be right for us to say any more at this time.”
They added: “The college has been notified that UCU wish to enter into a dispute with the college following the dismissal of the staff member.
“The college does not accept and refutes UCU comments. The college has taken necessary steps to minimise the impact of any action and will continue to operate as normal."
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies